Search Engine Optimization is the science (or art) of writing content so that it appears higher in search engine results. Since Google is the largest and most popular search engine, much of SEO equates to figuring out how to play by Google’s rules.The problem is Google changes its rules regularly. So SEO (like anything else) is something that is ever-changing, meaning to do it right you need to keep up-to-date with changes in how Google ranks search results.
Despite that, the general rules of SEO and how it works will probably never change because of how search engines serve results to users.
How Search Engines Work
When somebody wants to find out about something, they go to Google and search by typing in words or a phrase. In SEO, these words are called “keywords.” Google looks at the keywords and brings up a list of results based on what it believes the user wants to see.
If you search for, “Chinese restaurants in New York,” Google looks at the words and figures out what you want to see. Showing you the websites that it thinks best match up to being Chinese restaurants in New York.
But how does Google know which websites are relevant?
On a basic level, keywords work simply by matching the words from a web page with the words from a search.<
To better illustrate this, let’s compare two websites:
1. A Chinese restaurant in San Francisco.
2. A Chinese restaurant in New York.
The first website won’t mention New York at all on its website but will mention that it’s a Chinese restaurant.
The second website will mention New York a lot and that it’s a Chinese restaurant.
So already, Google can make the assumption that if somebody is searching for a Chinese restaurant in New York, then the second website is more relevant than the first, simply because the words “New York” and “Chinese restaurant” are all over the website.
The trick then is to make sure your website includes relevant text and content that will show Google how best to sort it against other websites.
This is the basic gist of SEO. But here are some rules to help:
Ensure your webpage includes relevant keywords to your business based on what people would search for
While my basic explanation of keywords and their use sounds easy, it brings up a few issues straight away:
- What if New York has fifty Chinese restaurants? How does it decide which is most relevant to the user?
- What’s to stop people shoving the words “Chinese restaurant New York” all over their website to trick Google into believing it’s relevant?
On the latter point, that’s basically what people did in the early life of Google. It was a way to game the system. Simply scattering keywords around the website was enough.
But Google quickly figured out the loophole and started to use different methods to sort its results.
What this has done is made SEO a more and more complex thing that nobody completely understands, but that many people understand 90% of.
Now, back to the first problem, what if there are fifty Chinese restaurants? How does it decide how to sort its results?
Well, Google can look at a number of things. But it’s always looking for the most relevant web page based on the search made.
To do this Google:
- Uses “robots” to check web pages against its algorithm to see if the content is relevant and correct. Is the content just blocks of random keywords, or is it in paragraphs and readable with proper grammar?
- Checks around the web to see how many people are linking to the Chinese restaurant with the words “Chinese restaurant in New York.” If a lot of people are linking to the web page as a “Chinese restaurant in New York” then Google can assume that’s what appears on the page.
- Keeps track of how long people spend on web pages. If a user clicks a result, then comes back to Google 5 seconds later, the web page clearly wasn’t relevant as they spent no time on there. However, if a person spends a long time on the website, it clearly was the result they wanted.
- Tracks what links people are clicking. People are a great way of checking relevancy because they want something when they type in a search and Google knows when they get something they want. Google isn’t just looking for pages that are relevant, but also search results that are relevant too.
This brings us to is the second rule:
Make content that is relevant to the keywords you use.
If you’ve got a page about your Chinese restaurant in New York, make sure it has information that is relevant to somebody searching for a Chinese restaurant in New York. This seems simple, but it’s amazing how many people don’t do it.
People on Google are searching for information. To answer some question or query. If your webpage doesn’t answer their query then it’s irrelevant to them. If it’s irrelevant to them, it’s irrelevant to Google too.
So while your web pages should be filled with relevant keywords, that’s not enough. The page has to also be designed to both keep a visitor on it and to be useful for them. To do that you need to focus on writing the pages for your website in a style that is SEO friendly.
Share Your Page
Once your page is complete, your work isn’t finished. You then need to market your page as much as possible, because another aspect of good SEO is social proof.
The more a page is shared, the more Google sees it as being relevant. In other words, popular pages come up higher in search results. Which makes them more popular, which keeps them up high.
As Google searches the internet for new pages, it’s also figuring out how many pages link to pages too.
To get the ball rolling, link to all of your pages via social media. This will get other people to share the page too and hopefully build up some momentum.
Marketing your posts is almost more important than writing them. Marketing gets more people to see your pages which help your search results. Lucky for you, you read our blog to help with your marketing.